Luchi’s love of speed

Luciano Bacheta... “It’s a lot harder to maintain a lead than to get it, in motorsport.”-Pics: S.R. RAGHUNATHAN

“In F1, the margin for error is as low as five-hundredths of a second. As you go towards the top (F1), the demand for accuracy goes up too,” says the F2 champion, Luciano Bacheta, of his tryst with the pinnacle of motorsport. By N. Sudarshan.

Luciano Bacheta, the lanky 22-year-old from the United Kingdom, is living a dream. In September last, he was crowned the F2 champion, and barely a month had passed when he experienced the thrills associated with the sport’s pinnacle, the Formula One. On the sidelines of the MRF Challenge 2012 in Chennai, ‘Luchi’, as he is fondly called, spoke to Sportstar on his career so far, his plans for the future and his Indian connection.

Question: You are the reigning F2 champion. How does it feel?

Answer: It feels good. It’s a tough championship and I learnt a lot. Like for example, I took a sizeable lead at the start (of the championship); I then realised that it’s a lot harder to maintain a lead than to get it. It was a great experience.

You have an Indian first name?

Yeah… Akshay. My parents are from India. My mother is from Ludhiana (Punjab) and dad is from Rajasthan. We moved to England pretty early. It was such that only English was spoken at home. Even my grandparents spoke only in English, but I can understand a bit of Hindi. I have fond memories of India. My first adventures in a car and on a bike were in India, in the farms owned by my family.

When did you first start racing?

It was by pure chance. I was 12 years then and it was during my summer holidays. All my friends were away. I started looking into the yellow pages for some hobbies. I saw something related to go-karting. That’s how it started.

When were you first noticed as one with potential to excel as a top driver?

When I was 15. I won my first race in the Genetta Junior Championship in Britain. I finished third overall. Then in 2010, I came second in the Formula Renault Championship. I was looked at as one with good talent.

How was the support from the family considering that motorsport has always been money-driven?

Luciano Bacheta (Great Britain) sets the pace in the MRF Challenge 2012 at the Irungattukottai race track, near Chennai.-

It was great. They have been my source of inspiration. They have funded me till now. For me, after F2, the next stage is GP2 and that requires around one and half million pounds. That’s a lot of money; a big increase from the 300,000 pounds that was needed for F2. So, a sponsorship deal or something like a partnership will be great.

When you look back, how were the days when you made your first forays into the world of motorsport?

My family doesn’t have a background in racing. I was the first to get into it. When I started go-karting, I didn’t know what Formula Renault was. I had never heard of it. When I got in there (Formula Renault) for the first time, it was an all-new world. Everyone was so comfortable… and I was extremely nervous. (laughs).

Which is the one moment that you cherish the most until now?

Driving a Formula One car, when I test drove for Williams at Silverstone last year. Words can’t describe that feeling… I was very nervous. But everything went well. It was my first experience with a F1 simulator and DRS (Drag Reduction System). I was quick in the car too. It’s something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

How different and difficult was it when compared with F2?

It’s more in the mind, I would say. You do need to have a strong neck and core muscles, but more importantly, you are required to think faster. It needs quicker gearshifts. The margin for error is as low as five hundredth of a second. As you go towards the top (towards F1), the demand for accuracy goes up too.

Who is your idol?

Currently in F1 I don’t have any idols. One day I’ll be racing them, so… (laughs). From the past, I like Senna (Ayrton) for his character and determination.

Are you happy with the way your career has progressed so far?

There is always a feeling that it could have been better. But so far, I have managed to pull through pretty well. I have moved from go-karting to F1 in about nine years. Not a lot of people do it quicker… (smiles).

What are you looking forward to this year?

GP2 is my target this year. F1 has a lot of respect for GP2. It’s right under the noses of the F1 bosses. To do well there is my aim.

How are you planning your long-time future?

I would ideally like a couple of years in GP2. Then may be look at F1. It’s my aim to make sure of a career in motorsport. I just love the sport.

Your hobbies and other interests…

Nothing really. I do some boxing at home. We don’t hit each other… (laughs), but just practise. I would like to get into golf, which I feel is the exact opposite of motorsport.